In a revealing conversation with Andy Baggarly of The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal highlighted an unexpected obstacle for the MLB’s San Francisco Giants: the city itself.
According to insights shared by Giants’ legend Buster Posey, San Francisco’s evolving image post-pandemic is negatively impacting the team’s ability to attract star free agents.
The city’s transformation, characterized by a decline in office work and an apparent increase in emptiness, has fostered negative perceptions among players. While not universal, this sentiment is prevalent enough to be a concern for the Giants. Rosenthal pointed out that these perceptions are now a hurdle the team must overcome.
“They’ve got a geography problem, or a city problem,” Rosenthal said. “People talk about crime and all these things. I don’t have statistics. I don’t know for sure what’s going on there. But that perception exists… And they’re battling that right now.”
“So, there’s a lot going on, and the teams in California always have the state tax issue as well. California’s state tax is among the highest in the country,” Rosenthal finished.
Adding to the challenge is the competition with teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who not only have a track record of success but also benefit from being located in a more appealing urban environment. The situation was exemplified this week in the Giants’ failed pursuit of superstar Shohei Ohtani.
Despite making three substantial offers to the Japanese phenom, including a final proposal that matched the Los Angeles Dodgers’ record $700 million 10-year contract according to ESPN, the Giants couldn’t secure the deal.
Ohtani’s meeting with Giants’ officials, including president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, Greg Johnson, Posey, and new manager Bob Melvin, wasn’t enough to sway his decision. For the Giants, this now means grappling with a city’s changing image and its unforeseen impact on the team’s competitive edge in the high-stakes world of baseball free agency.
San Francisco has been facing a variety of crime-related challenges over recent years, with some areas showing improvement while others have worsened. One of the most significant issues has been the record number of drug overdose deaths. In just the first 11 months of 2023, at least 752 people died of drug overdoses, surpassing the previous record set in 2020. Fentanyl has been listed as a contributing factor in over 80% of these deaths according to the San Francisco Standard.
Recent high-profile assaults by mentally-ill, homeless individuals have also raised concerns about the city’s ability to protect its residents and visitors from aggressive behavior
Under Gavin Newsom, California is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis with a record $68 billion budget deficit. The alarming situation, as reported by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office, marks a dramatic shift from the state’s previous financial surpluses. The deficit, the largest in California’s history in dollar terms, has been attributed to a significant shortfall in tax collections, amounting to $26 billion, and an overall economic slowdown.